Just got back from the SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Three
days of fatigue, dehydration, seeing long-time industry friends, making new
friends, and seeing lots and lots of really interesting, new things. As you can
tell, itís a love/hate thing that I have with the Show. Anyway, hereís just a
very few of the items that I found to be particularly interesting. I hope that
during the course of the year Iíll be able to cover these items and others in
The absolute number one item of interest that everyone
was talking about was the new Mach 2 seventeen caliber rimfire cartridge. As you
and CCI developed the 17 HMR
cartridge, which was based on the 22 Winchester Magnum case. This year the Hornady/CCI team has taken the concept to its next logical step and has
developed a 17 caliber cartridge based on the 22 Long Rifle case (a CCI Stinger
case to be exact).
The new cartridge is just as cute as a bug but is as
deadly as an angry pit bull. The 17 grain bullet has a muzzle velocity of 2100
fps and Iíve seen a movie of it completely blowing up a small pumpkin. However,
hereís the thing that really gets my interest. Itís really, really accurate. How
accurate? How about half inch groups at 100 yards? Price of the Hornady/CCI ammo
hasnít been fixed yet, but informed speculation by insiders is tagging it at
around $6 for a box of 50. (Note: just noticed that one of the big catalog
outfits is apparently taking advanced orders already and they are quoting $5.53
"The Mach 2 is based
on the 22 Long Rifle"
As of this date (2/16/04) Anschutz, Ruger, Marlin,
Savage, and Thompson Center are highly probable candidates for providing
firearms for the new cartridge. These companies have either already committed to
the cartridge or were actively engaged in intense technical discussions with
Hornady and CCI at the Show.
Interestingly, Winchester is undecided whether the Mach
2 has a big enough place in the market next to the 17 HMR and so appears to be
willing to sit on the sidelines for the moment to see how things will shake out.
In my opinion, unless there are unresolved or unknown technical problems with
the new ammo that still needs to be fixed, Winchester is going to be missing a
very large boat just as they did with the 17 HMR.
Eley, however, doesnít have any
hesitation about the Mach 2. They are totally committed to producing ammo. In
fact, they are so committed to the to the new cartridge that they have purchased
new production machinery to handle the expected volume. The new Eley ammo will
be using that companyís advanced priming compound.
One last point of information. Donít immediately run
out to your local sporting goods store or start calling your favorite catalog
place and try to buy a gun or ammunition. Hornady, CCI, and Eley are all saying
they wonít have ammo in the pipeline until late summer or early fall. I also got
the sense that the firearms manufacturers wonít be selling guns before the ammo
is readily available anyway. Sources tell me they donít want to be caught in a
similar situation as with the early days of the 17 HMR where there were guns on
the market but hardly any ammunition.
Hornady, theyíve added a new
XPT bullet to the 17 HMR. The XTP will provide a more controlled expansion rate
on tough targets than the current VMAX bullet, which is optimized for violent
expansion on soft targets. Hornady has also got a very, very nice compact
electronic scale with a capacity of 350 grains that is absolutely perfect for
reloading out at the range. It even comes in a plastic carrying case and is
equipped with a wind cover over the weighing platform. A couple of AAA batteries
supply the power. For the bench at home thereís also a new electronic 1000 grain
lens system on the new VXIII line approaches the theoritical limits of
has a new improved replacement
for itís very popular Vari-X III line of scopes. The new series is called the VX-III.
One of the primary features of the new scopes is that they use a new lens
coating methodology that they call an "Index Matched Lens System".
This is an extension of
philosophy of "light management". In essence, the coatings on each lens in the
scope are optimized to the particular optical glass that theyíre applied to in a
coordinated fashion to ensure the maximum light transmission. In other words,
not all the lenses are made with the same glass or have the same coatings but
will all work together as a team to produce the best image. As a result of this
system optimization approach, light transmission has reached 98% in some of the
VX-III scopes. This is very, very close to what the healthy human eye can
Additionally, all models will have a fast focus
eyepiece, a side focus parallax resolution knob on variable scopes of 4.5X - 14X
and higher (except the EFR), and will have quarter minute clicks that are finger
adjustable versus the old quarter in the slot friction type adjustments. For
those who prefer, illuminated reticule models in the new line up are available
Also of particular interest from Leupold is a Golden
Ring 15-30 Compact spotting scope. This is really kind of a mid size rather than
a mini compact scope. Even so, itís only 11 inches long and has all of the
Leupold quality features like multicoating, waterproofing, etc. Had a chance to
look through it and was surprised at what a nice image I was getting from the 50
mm lens. Thereís also a very compact 40 mm version that fits right into the palm
of your hand. Very nice for taking on a hunt.
has really come up with a great
idea. Itís basically a sampler pack consisting of four, quarter pound containers
of four different Hodgdon powders falling within a in a general burning range.
Theyíre called "Xperimenter Packs". There are a number of different sampler
packs available i.e. fast, medium, and slower burning. Right now, theyíre
available in rifle powders only. This is a great idea for the reloader who wants
to try a number of different powders when working up a load. So rather than
having to buy four, one pound cans, you can just buy a sampler pack for the
rough cost of a single pound of powder. Itís one of those immensely logical
ideas where you say, "Why didnít someone do it before?" Good going Hodgdon!
inch version of the big 500 Smith is available for 2004."
Smith & Wessonís
500 Magnum revolver is
selling hand over fist and sales of brass, bullets, etc. for the new cartridge
are doing equally as well. Starline brass even has a backlog of orders for the
cases. (Whoís going to be the first in IHMSA to neck it down to 6.5mm?) Both
Hornady and CCI have new hollow point and flat point bullets for the big magnum.
Believe it or not, a four inch version the big Smith will be made available this
year. There will be a number of muzzle break options available. The new gun is
geared towards professional guides, backpackers, and hunters in dangerous bear
For those interested in a light weight self defense gun
for the house, take a look at the new Model 325PD. Itís a slick 21 ounce, 2.5
inch barreled, scandium and titanium alloy revolver chambered in 45 ACP. It
carries a lot of punch in a small, light weight package and is easy to handle.
has some interesting items. One is
a zoom version of the 50mm Action binoculars that I reviewed several months ago.
The new binoculars are 10-22X50mmís, which is more than enough power for bright,
wide angle stereo viewing of the 200 meter ram targets. Like the others, the new
binoculars are multicoated and have the same BaK4 high index prisms.
know a lot of silhouette shooters like to varmint hunt
where judging distances can really be tricky. Nikonís new Laser 800 rangefinder
is just the ticket for those applications and for checking to see whether your
silhouette targets are set out at the proper distance on the range. The new unit
uses all digital processing rather than analog, which results highly precise
results (+ -18 inches at 800 yards). Itís also fully waterproofed. When checking
it out at the Show, I lined it up on a thin electrical cord hanging down from
the ceiling some distance away. The Laser 800 had no problem hitting it with its
beam and calculating the distance. That cord couldnít have been more than a half
inch wide. Thatís what digital processing can do for you. Impressive.
Thereís also a new
Nikon armored compact 60mm 16-48 spotting scope. This is a nice rubber
armored straight through design. Itís fully waterproofed, with full multicoating, and phase corrected prisms. Itís also got a built in peep
sight and is available with a compact tripod and a carrying case.
RCBS powder dispenser is much faster than the old model."
has upgraded its electronic
powder dispenser/electronic scale unit. The scale (which can be purchased
separately) does away with the infrared interface and now plugs directly
into the side of the dispenser. The new combination has a much cleaner
design and in my opinion takes up less space on the bench. It also has
lots more memory so that more of your loads can be stored in the machine.
Itís easier to recall stored loads as well.
The thing I liked best is the fact that the dispensing
process is much faster than with the old model. For experimenting reloaders like
us where we want to check out say a new powder and want to load five rounds with
13.5, 14.5, 15.5 grains each etc., this is a very useful tool which can speed up
the whole process by quite a bit.
scopes are available with a carrying case and window mount."
New comer Alpen whose 80mm spotting scopes have
made an impressive impact with their quality performance at good prices is
taking a big jump into rifle scopes. The new Apex line represents their top end
products. Silhouette shooters should definitely be interested in their 6-24. The
objective lens on these scopes is a huge 50mmís. These are also fully
multicoated, have target turret 1/4 minute adjustments and have 3 inch eye
There are also two new waterproof rubber armored
spotting scopes. One is a 50mm and the other a 60mm. Not many 50mm spotting
scopes are waterproofed. The 50 sports a 15-30 eyepiece and the 60mm a 18-36. By
the way, their familiar 80mm spotter has been refined with some styling changes
and an increase in eye relief. As an option, you can also get a kit, which
includes a hard sided case and a window mount.
"This is a much improved
design. For a little more, you can get one of these beauties with a lube
introduced a very nifty new
lubricator/sizer. This is a completely new design that uses a much improved,
heavier linkage and a longer handle with a large knob on the end for first class
leverage. The machine also has a much thicker base than the old unit. For a
little more, you can get one of these beauties with a lube heater. The heater
unit is a short rod with an attached electrical cord that fits into a recess in
the thick base. This really looks like a slick machine for those of you who
bullet cast. Other new things of interest to silhouette shooters is a very nice
one piece electronic powder dispensing system, an updated version of their
classic reloading manual, and a very functional ball micrometer for measuring
case neck thickness.
How would you like to buy a technically sophisticated
90mm spotting scope for only $300 or a 125mm scope for $450? Impossible you say.
Well, you can.
absolutely blew me away with its new ETX
models. As I previously reported some time ago ATK sold its optical business
(Weaver, Simmons, & Redfield) to Meade Corp., a manufacturer of astronomical
telescopes. Evidently Meade has transferred some of its technology over to
Weaver and that has resulted in the ETX. This scope is essentially an
astronomical type that appears to have been adapted for spotting. The objective
lenses are absolutely huge and are of a very sophisticated design. The basic
scope design itself is a classic astronomical folded optics type, which gives
you a lot of focal length in a very compact package. This is a spotting scope
for the very serious long range shooter. Know anyone like that? Weaver says you
can read license plates with it a half mile away. Believe me, youíll have no
problem seeing 22 rimfire holes at 200 meters with this baby, or even 17 caliber
holes for that matter.
If you load pistol cartridges on a progressive machine
has packaged their competition seater and
profile crimping dies with a titanium carbide sizing die in a single package
geared just towards you. No expander die is included in the set as almost all
progressive machines expand case mouths at the powder dispensing position. They
also have an new E-Z Feed shell holder that is tapered to allow easier case
insertion. Itís also knurled around the outside for a better grip. If youíve
ever done any amount of case trimming youíll appreciate the fact that theyíve
added an adapter to attach a cordless screwdriver to their case trimmer. Should
make trimming a lot faster. I also see that theyíve acquired one of my favorite
products - Imperial Sizing Wax. If youíve got to do some serious case reforming,
this is the stuff you want to use for a case lube.
is one of those smaller
companies in the industry that regularly comes out with very innovative
precision reloading and cleaning products. Anyone who doesnít own one of their
universal bore guides is missing an extremely valuable tool in their cleaning
This year they have a very nice bore guide for 22
rimfire bolt actions that gets around the ejector finger that usually prevents
other guides from being used. They also have a new 22 rimfire gauge that can be
used for both long rifle and magnum cartridges. It probably can be used for the
Mach 2 cartridge as well.
"Brownells range bags
can be had in both classy and utilitarian versions Both are very
catalog has got to be one
of the most fun catalogs in the world for a shooter to thumb through. It was
almost as much fun to visit their booth at the show and see all of the new
stuff. One group of items that impressed me was their new line of Signature gun
bags. The suede leather bag was especially classy and not that expensive at all.
The CORDURA model is made with 1000 denier material while the competition uses
900 denier. Both models have all kinds of pockets and places to tuck things and
both have corrugated hard plastic inserts on the bottom to insure a buckle free
carry. The bags also have a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
has put their FP-10
lubricant in a aerosol container. This is a super gun oil that works between -76
degrees up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. They also have a new degreaser that wonít
harm plastic parts, polymer frames, grips etc. While not a new product, their
Extreme Clean ammonia free bore cleaner, wonít eat up your bronze bore brushes
and will do a good job of getting all the lead and copper out. I just squirt it
right down the barrel from the aerosol can.
According to the Internet chatter from the rimfire
benchrest crowd, Lapua
has upgraded the priming compound in Midas
M and L and the new ammo is producing phenomenal results. Lapuaís US importer,
Kaltron Pettibone couldnít confirm that, but did report that they are having a
very difficult time keeping new lots of that ammo in stock due to a huge demand.
Iosso, the maker of the only paste type
bore cleaner on the market has upgraded its bore brushes again. The "Eliminator"
blue nylon type bristles are even thicker than before for better scrubbing
action and unlike most brushes, the bristles go all of the way to the very top
of the spindle to provide more bristles per brush. More bristles = better
cleaning. Ammonia based cleaning solvents wonít eat up these brushes either.
Lastly, I had the privilege of attending a very nice
luncheon given by Smith & Wesson on behalf of "Shooting for Women" magazine".
Itís not as well known as it should be, but Smith & Wesson is a major supporter
of many, many womenís shooting activities as well as womenís shooting
organizations such as The Texas Divas. Iíll tell you The Divas make the NRA look
like wimps when it comes to supporting the Second Amendment. By the way, I had a
look at the Shooting for Women magazine and itís a high quality, very
professional publication. Any woman can get a subscription to the magazine free,
courtesy of Smith & Wesson. Just go to
Smith & Wesson
and the ladies of Shooting for Women are doing
a terrific job of educating women about firearms and the safe, responsible
culture that 99% of American gun owners represent. It would really be great if
other manufacturers in the industry and other shooting organizations emulated
Smith & Wessonís efforts to bring more women into the firearms world. If that
could happen, things in Washington would really change fast.
"Rocky "Charger" boots will
keep your feet toasty all day long"
I saw something really hot at the booth for
Rocky Shoes and Boots.
Theyíve got a new line of boots and clothing, which is heated with a battery
pack. Itís called "WarmGear". The line consists of "Charger" boots, a vest type
jacket, and pants. The boots in particular intrigued me. A rechargeable battery
about the size of a pack of cigarettes clips on to a pair of terminals on the
side of the boot. The warming elements are embedded in the sole. As I understand
the principle, you attach the battery when your feet start to get cold. When
things warm up, you unclip the battery, as the boot will now retain that heat
for a long period of time (as long as all day). If things start getting cold
again, just clip the battery back on.
The clips are designed so the battery isnít going to fall off or get
brushed off during strenuous activity. This is really a great idea as I have
been in situations when my feet got so cold I felt like I was dragging around a
couple of blocks of ice. The sole of the boot is a lightweight type and the
upper features Rockyís waterproof Scent IQ fabric liner, which eliminates human
odor. Remember those critters can smell you coming even before they see you. The
Charger is available in both leather and Mossy Oak 1000 denier CORDURA. Anyone
who works or plays outdoors in cold weather country should definitely look into